Development and Local Knowledge: New Approaches to Issues in Natural Resources Management, Conservation, and Agriculture

Development and Local Knowledge: New Approaches to Issues in Natural Resources Management, Conservation, and Agriculture

Development and Local Knowledge: New Approaches to Issues in Natural Resources Management, Conservation, and Agriculture

Development and Local Knowledge: New Approaches to Issues in Natural Resources Management, Conservation, and Agriculture

Synopsis

There is a revolution happening in the practice of anthropology. A new field of 'indigenous knowledge' is emerging, which aims to make local voices hear and ensure that development initiatives meet the needs of indigenous people. Development and Local Knowledge focuses on two major challenges that arise in the discussion of indigenous knowledge - its proper definition and the methodologies appropriate to the exploitation of local knowledge. These concerns are addressed in a range of ethnographic contexts.

Excerpt

Development agencies are increasingly sympathetic to the proposition that indigenous knowledge should feature in the planning and implementation of programmes. They are ever more receptive with the failure of many development projects, the emergence of ‘stakeholder participation’ and the advancement of policies targeting the poor who depend heavily on indigenous strategies. Such work, briefly, seeks to facilitate a larger role for local peoples’ knowledge and aspirations in interventions planned for their regions. There is some academic debate over the propriety of the term indigenous knowledge, and by extension the correctness of engaging in such work (Agrawal 1995; Antweiler 1998; Ellen and Harris 2000), an argument taken up by Fisher in this book. Some are unhappy at the use of the word indigenous, on the grounds that it is difficult to determine the status of indigene (e.g. Colchester 2002; McIntosh 2002), and suggest other terms such as local or traditional knowledge. Whatever term we use, there are objections. It is no easier to define local or traditional than indigenous. And indigenous is the label, for better or for worse, that has caught on in development circles. We have taken up the debate over the definition of the term indigenous knowledge, and gone even further to question the meaning of the term development, in a companion volume to this one, entitled Participating in Development: Approaches to indigenous knowledge (Sillitoe, Bicker and Pottier 2002), which originated from the same conference. This was the millennial Association of Social Anthropologists of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth (ASA) Conference (at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies, April 2000), which aimed to further debate about the place of indigenous knowledge in development.
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